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tv   Worldfocus  PBS  August 19, 2009 5:00pm-5:30pm EDT

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tonight on the "worldfocus" -- a wave of explosions pummel baghdad killing and wounding hundreds. what's happening to the security america has spent and sacrificed to bring about? how to measure success in america's other war in afghanistan. ares its first progress report. we'll take you airborne to look at an extraordinary effort by the u.s. military to save lives in the middle of the war, welcome aboard an air ambulance. and germany wants a million electric vehicles on the road by 2020. we'll plug you in on how they plan to do it. from the world's leading reporters and analysts, here's what's happening from around the world. this is "worldfocus." made possible, in part, by the following funders --
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major support has also been provided by the peter g. peterson foundation dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. >> good evening, i'm martin savidge. if you woke up this morning and turned on the news you might have felt a sense of discouragement about what you were hearing out of afghanistan and iraq. more than 5,000 american troops have died in those two countries since troops were deployed to afghanistan in the fall of 2001 and iraq in the spring of 2003. and hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent but all these years later neither country tonight seems especially secure. we'll take you to afghanistan in a moment. there was more violence there today on the eve of national elections. but we begin tonight in iraq with a story that by now is familiar. once again today a series of bombings in baghdad killed dozens of iraqis. it was the worst incident.
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the latest violence in iraq, that's our "lead focus" tonight. itn's carl dinnen takes us there. >> reporter: this is the first big test of iraq's new security regime. two months arch u.s. forces centers, the insurgents have made a deadly attack on baghdad. one explosion was felt by a conference of tribal chiefs meeting at a supposedly secure hotel. this was the moment. as the dust and debris fell from the ceiling, some hurriedly left the room, others started defing religious slogans. the target had been the nearby foreign ministry. the blast was apparently so big it left a crater three meters' deep and ten meters across. at least a dozen people were killed there.
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a truck bomb also destroyed part of a bridge near the finance ministry which was targeted in as witharia in northern baghdad. at least 18 people were killed there. and more than 200 injured. across the city there have been at least six bomb and mortar attacks. hospitals have been inun and the latest information suggests that at least 75 people have been killed and more than 300 injured. >> after carl dinnen filed that report the death toll in baghdad rose again. it's now said that at least 95 people were killed. several hundred were wounded in today's attacks. now to afghanistan, where 41 candidates including the incumbent, hamid karzai, are viagare if the presidency in elections now less than 24 hours away. the taliban continues to do all it can to make its presence felt on the eve of voting. in kabul militants with ak-47s and hand grenades took over a
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bank and exchanged gunfire with police before being killed. the taliban claimed today that 20 armed suicide bombers wearing explosive vests are now in kabul. as we've been reporting, the united states is stepping up efforts to improve security in afghanistan. there are now 62,000 american troops in that country and three more were killed there today. more than 160 americans have died so far this year which has us wondering, what will be the measure of their success? as nick spicer of al jazeera english reports, it's a question the obama administration has been thinking about aswe. >> this is not a war of choice. a war of necessity. those who attack america on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. >> reporter: they are calling afghanistan, obama's war, and this week the american president was selling it again. polls suggest support for the u.s. troop presence in that is down at around 40%. to fight that growing
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skepticism, obama last march promised to show voters measurable progress with benchmarks of 50 or so metrics. >> going forward, we'll not blindly stay the course. instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable. >> reporter: u.s. casualty numbers will almost certainly figure on a list of metrics. so likely will numbers on overall security and civilian casualties. secret now, the metrics will soon be made public every three months because afghanistan advisers to obama say publicity is their main purpose. >> trying to convinces american people that they should send their sons and daughters in harm's way is not an easy thing to do. the american people are, in my judgment, prepared to do that only if they are confident that the strategy that's being pursued is a workable strategy that will lead to the desired outcome. >> but you can also just organize the numbers to produce
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the desirable results or the illusion of it as the saying goes, there are lie, damn lies and statistics. so while the metrics haven't been released yet, there's still a danger of misleading the public. >> i think anyone motivated to use numbers will use them to try to make their stories sound better. >> reporter: researcher jason campbell advised the u.s. government, the military, diplomats, and aide workers on the metrics' idea. he points out that past presidents have misused the concept. >> we've certainly learned the hard way on a number of occasions. like, first, picking the wrong metrics can do as in vietnam, where we decided simply count the number of dead vietcong and basically tie our idea of progress to that and learn very harshly that that was not the case. we would continue to kill many vietcong and ultimately were failing. >> reporter: campbell says the most important numbers will be the ones showing what the afghan people think.
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while the u.s. and the current government are increasingly unpopular, the taliban is even more disliked, with popularity ratings never going beyond the single digits, at least for now. nick spicer, al jazeera, washington. whether th violence in afghanistan and iraq can be brought to an end anytime soon is a question on many people's minds. nora bensahel is a senior of political scientist at rand corporation and expert on american efforts in afghanistan and iraq. and she joins us from washington. thanks very much for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> many people of course are wondering has our involvement in iraq and in afghanistan, in terms of lives lost and money spent, been worth it? and i guess the question to you is, has it? >> well, i think that the two conflicts are very different and has had different sets of . the war in afghanistan is very clearly tied to what happened on september 11th, 2001. those attacks were coordinated and planned from afghan
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territory. and so the objective of that operation have really been to ensure that there is no more taliban presence in the country that can facilitate something like that happening again. vaik much murkier question. after the invasion and the initial rationale for the war didn't seem to hold up with the lack of weapons of mass destruction being found, it became a very different situation there. the real question there for the future is the extent to which the aqi government is going to be able to stand on its own feet. >> all right, well, let's deep with afghanistan first. the obama administration has said that it's going to measure progress using what are called metrics. first of all, what are they? and what do you see as the most important metrics? >> the objective that president obama has set out in march 2009, after a strategy review that was conducted after coming into office, said that u.s. objectives in afghanistan should be to counter terrorism and counter the insurgent that is being led by the taliban. what that means is the afghan government has to be able to
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control its own territory. and at the moment, it doesn't. the southern part of the country has largely been absent. international forces have largely been absent from the south since the beginning of military operations there. and so that has been the real focus of military efforts there in the past couple of months. >> what would you see as a satisfactory result or end point for the u.s. mission in afghanistan? >> i think that the satisfactory end point is having the afghan government be able to control its own territory. i think that that is the -- an objective which the president has stated very clearly and without that there's no guarantee that other folks including the taliban, al qaeda remnants, so on and so forth, won't be able to come back in and establish a safehaven for operations. >> all right, well, then, let's go back to today's bombings in iraq. these attacks have increased in recent weeks. is that a sign that not much has really changed there? >> the fact that the attacks have increased in recent weeks was predicted by u.s. security forces and analysts looking at the situation.
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because u.s. forces had agreed to pull out of the major iraqi cities at the end of june. and it was anticipated that as soon as the u.s. forces went away, that the insurgents in iraq would try to target iraqi security forces as a way of showing the weakness of the iraqi government and trying to advance their own political agenda. if those -- these types of attacks continue on for a prolonged period of time, say over month, i think it will reveal things about the iraqi government's capacity but for now i think it reveals that there are folks in the insurgency that are disaffected with the iraqi government who are trying to challenge it and using these attacks as a way of demonstrating lack of government capacity. >> nora bensahel, sorry, we are out of time. thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thank you. american troops in afghanistan are not only fighting the war, they are also fighting to save the lives of injured soldiers and civilians caught want in battles there. "the new york times" patrick barth spent a week with the unit with the 168th american air ambulance corpsean he has their story from the front lines in
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this in-depth report. our "spotlight" story tonight. >> reporter: jalalabad, east of afghanistan, an afghan policeman shot in the stomach in an ambush by taliban insurgents. an afghan civilian with his legs shredded by a landmine and two soldiers seriously injured by an ied explosion. these are just some the injuries that have to deal is with on a daily basis. >> strong central pulse. ice are reactive at three millimeters. >> insurgent attacks in afghanistan are now at the highest level since the fall of the taliban in 2001. during one week alone in june, there were 400 attacks against coalition forces and afghan infrastructures. med rick practices and the flight crews from california and wyoming are used to putting their lives on the line to save others. for one year this national guard unit has been flying evacuation
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missions out of jalalabad into some the most dangerous combat mountains. the tradition back to vietnam. these medevac air ambulance attached to the division represents last line of death between life and death. whenever they are dispatched the race starts against that golden hour. that crucial period of which patience hances of survival have diminished. >> as we were coming in we had to circle the area because we had aircraft overhead firing into some locations. we were not immediately aware of the exact landing zone so we were kind of in the holding pattern. and so far as we knew, there were still troops in contact, which means they were taking in enemy fire. when you stepped out, they do what you call 5 and 25. you check your immediate area so you're not stepping on an ied or any other type of -- you know, any device. the patient has received a
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significant wound from an rpg, rocket-propelled grenade blast. taking off a lot of the flesh of his upper arm. >> he had a lot of blood all over him. we had a very short flight. he was still bleeding. and i had to put a second turniquette on him and tried to get a rapid set of vitals, you know heart rate, respiration, pulse semmetry. as much as a could get in maybe a six or seven-minute flight. >> reporter: the next night line came. serious back injuries. little information. frequently don't know what to expect as they approach the point of injury. >> right now with three vehicles on the road. 093192. would like you to land on the road, if possible. we've blocked off a section with
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two humvees. about 100 meters long where there's no traffic. >> there are times when i see my guys go out and i wonder is that going to be the last time i see him. sometimes i go out and i think is this is last time anyone is going to see me? sometimes you go out and you know it's a hoist mission and there are bad guys running around out there. and you wonder, what -- what will they say to my children? you know, are they going to get that knock on the door? and it does weigh heavily on you sometimes but what you do is you focus and you do your job and you talk to your friends. >> there are people out there who want to kill us and they want to kill my people, my countrymen. i feel i have a personal responsibility. i don't know why. i don't know why i get worked up
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about it. anyway i have a personal responsibility, obligation to the guy on the ground. the guy who is there risking his life every day to take my family back home. and i'm going to do what can do to pull him out. and if someone's standing in the way of his safety, like i said, it's a bad day for them. afghanistan's people are often caught in the cross fire of the war between the taliban and western troops. and a new report out today from the humanitarian organization oxfam says that one-third of the population is now at risk from another enemy, hunger. oxfam's aide workers say that the u.s. alone spends $100 million a day for military operations in afghanistan, while
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all international aid combined adds up to just $7 million a day for humanitarian projects. joining us now for more on that vapt representative of oxfam, shannon scl shan scribner for oxfam america which is based in washington. thanks for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> how bad is the hunger situation in afghanistan? >> for a country that used to be considered the breadbasket of the region, it's pretty bad. a third of afghans are food insecure or at risk of hunger. and it just means they don't have enough calories on a given day. and 80% of afghans rely on agriculture to survive. yet investments in agriculture have been very slim with less than 5% going to the agriculture sect norsnooun what about lack of health care, lack of sanitation? >> those are certainly problems as well. while we have seen some improvements in expanding education and health care, a lot
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more needs to be done. security is the number one issue for afghans. just yesterday we had 20 people killed across the country and right outside of kabul, there was a suicide bomb that killed tenpeople. but in addition to that, the life expectancy in afghanistan is only 45 years of age. every 30 minutes, a woman dies due to pregnancy and delivery complications. we have a million children and half a million women who are malnourished and we have 250,000 people that have been displaced due to the conflict. >> well, do you think it'll ever be possible to address the issues of stability without, first, addressing the issues of poverty and infrastructure? >> i think they both go hand in hand. while addressing the security situation on the ground, we have to do a better job at delivering aid, getting it to the people based on the people's need and also addressing the humanitarian issues throughout the country. >> your group has expressed concerns about what you call the
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militarization of aid works. what do you mean by that? >> in afghanistan, the military, through provincial reconstruction teams, are developing a large amount of assistance. and while that may make sense in the south and the east, it doesn't make sense in the north and the west where there's more security. and that's for two reasons. first, it puts afghans at risk. if they're seem to be associated with international forces, they can be targeted by insurgents and oxfam did a report last year showing that every four day, three afghans are execute for collaborating with the government or international forces. but it also brings up questions about sustainability. how sustainable are the growths going to be if the military forces aren't best placed? and also get that community buy-in, which is essential for sustainability and longevity of programs on the ground. >> shannon scribner, thank you very much for joining us this evening. >> thank you.
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despite a long history of secret banking law, swzerland's giant ubs bank today agreed to turn over records from thousands of u.s. customer's accounts to the internation internal revenue service. the i.r.s. suspects that accounts are being used to evade paying taxes in the u.s. >> throughout europe and here in the u.s., consumers are lining up for more fuel-efficient cars and while the promise of a steady supply of fully electric car, it's still a ways off. in germany the government has set a new goal of having 1 million battery ran cars by 2020. >> reporter: a battery charging cable is in a pickle pump. this could be the future of driving in germany. this electric mini is just one
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example. all german carmakers are investing in the development of electric cars. the demand is there. a survey shows that 1 in 5 potential car buyers is delaying his or her purchase until electric vehicles become widely available. many countries already have incentive schemes to encourage people to buy electric. japan offers the most generous subsidies up to 4707 euros. britain introduced its own scheme. uk buyers soon eligible. if the united states, buyers can claim a tax credit of up to 5,300 euros. in germany, buyers currently ge. but the government says it will subsidize the purchase of the first 100,000 cars beginning in 2012. >> that report from germany's deutsche welle tv. and one more story from europe, that is tru sign the times. switzerland is gaining ground and italy is losing, as the
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border between the two countries shifts 164 yards because of a melting glacier. the warmer climate means the final stop of a ski lift on a mountain here in the famous mata horn is now in swiss territory. in another sign that north korea may be starting to open up to the rest of the world, that country's leader kim jong-il, sent condolences to the family of former south korean presid t president. he won the nobel peace prize. american. >> jayo jintao arrived today.
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jintao a vietnam veteran has diabetes, asthma and according to his ex-wife suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. he was sentenced to seven years hard labor after a bizarre incident in may when he swam across the lake of a home of the detained democracy leader suu kyi. suu kyi's sentence was extended another 18 months. jintao's release from prison. was allowed a rare visit to the secretive country and the first time a u.s. senior politician had access country's reclusive leader and a possible sign that relations between the u.s. and the military regime that controls burma might open up. tonight, we've got a glimpse inside burma an excerpt from the latest edition of "wide angle." called "eyes of the storm." it's the story of children orphaned by cyclone nargis last year. a storm that killed more than 130,000 people. and left millions homeless.
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>> reporter: these kids are on their own now. a parentless fam leech three. when the storm hit they were out playing while their parents cooked at their home.
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>> reporter: nargis smashed burma's largest city, and flooded the delta to the south killing 130,000 burmese. it left some 2 million people homeless. in the aftermath, burma state television proclaimed that everything was under control and that the group of generals who rule the country were leading a well-oiled relief effort. the prime minister reassured the nation. eyewitnesses said otherwise.
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>> translator: after the storm, those victims who survived had nothing to eat or drink for days. there were many who were sitting and waiting for food and died of starvation. >> reporter: this burmese man goes by the alias zoro. he has to hide his real edentity because he practices a trade that is virtually illegal in burma, independent journalism. >> translator: they sent in soldiers with no food or rations for themselves. the soldiers atette food that was donated to the victims by people in the neighboring areas. while victims were suffering, the soldiers ate their food. they didn't have anything with them, but guns and pots. >> check your local listings for "wide angle" and also find it online at angle and that's "worldfocus" for this wednesday. i'm martin savidge in new york. as always, thank you very much for joining us. we'll look for you back here again tomorrow and anytime on the web. until then, have a good night. "worldfocus" is made possible, in part, by the following funders --
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"worldfocus" is made possible, in part, by the -- captions by vitac -- major support has also been provided by the peter g. peterson foundation dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future.
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